A rare solar eclipse is right around the corner on Aug. 21, and the good people at NASA are doing all they can to ensure that anyone who wants to can safely watch it.
The agency made a short video explaining a simple DIY way to make your own eclipse viewing device out of an empty cereal box using nothing but scissors, paper, tape and aluminum foil. Pay attention though, the method is a little different than you might expect. To see the eclipse using this device, your back will need to be to the sun.
On its website, NASA also has a list of reputable retailers from whom you can purchase a range of eclipse viewers, and states where some are sold out. One thing carefully pointed out on the safety page: Homemade glasses that do not follow the above video are not good enough.
“Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight,” the site explains.
They also list a few simple ways to enjoy the eclipse if you do not have the time, money, or supplies to make or purchase your own eclipse viewer.
“Cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent Suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.”
NASA has provided lists of additional safety information ranging from how to help children enjoy the eclipse to how to enjoy it from various locations.
The total solar eclipse, one of nature’s most enchanting spectacles, is only viewable from specific locations in North America on rare occasions. Next week will give us all the opportunity to see something that will not come along again for years, so read the safety rules and get your cereal boxes ready.